2013 Book #29 – The Best Man, by Kristan Higgins

Man, I love reading a really good book! That’s what makes life worth living. Especially when it’s a funny, moving, and very real book, like Kristan Higgins’ The Best Man.

the best man

I heard Kristan speak at the RWA conference in Atlanta. I’d never read any of her books before, but after that speech—that fantastic speech in which she made us all laugh until our sides split and then, three minutes later, weep until all the napkins on the tables were soaked—I knew I had to read something she’d written.

The Best Man did not disappoint. Right from the beginning, she sets up a premise that is both hilarious and cringe-worthy. Our heroine, Faith, is all set to marry her long-time love and high school sweetheart, the perfect, handsome, intelligent, super nice Jeremy. She’s all set to marry him, that is, until he comes out at the altar. D’oh! The decision to come out right then was, of course, precipitated by Jeremy’s best friend, Levi, the best man.

Levi and Faith have never really gotten along. The book, told in a sort of non-linear way, traces the course of their awkward relationship. Faith comes from a well-off family, shiny and perfect in every way…except that her mother was killed in a car crash nineteen years ago. Faith survived that crash, but carries deep emotional scars because of it, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Levi, on the other hand, grew up in a broken home in a trailer park. He was popular in school, and as the reader finds out he has always been deeply thoughtful. He is now the town of Manninsgport, NY’s police chief, but he and Faith have always been separated by that great social divide.

Faith left town right after the wedding and has been gone for three years. She comes back for her family, not intending to stay, but ah, the course of true love will run in whatever direction it wants to. Faith still carries a ton of baggage. So does Levi. As I started reading I kept wondering to myself how on earth Kristan was going to resolve the deep-seated conflict in both of these character’s hearts.

She does a pretty darn good job! I could totally hear the same funny, self-deprecating, I-really-want-to-be-your-friend voice that Kristan delivered her RWA speech in. There is so much humor in this love story! So much that it makes the emotional impact of the sadder parts that much more poignant. These guys have a lot to get through before they find their HEA.

There were a couple of things that kept the book from being spot-on perfect for me, but I’m splitting hairs. I kind of felt as though there was just a little too much going on. The relationship was so fraught with material that I didn’t think the turmoil of the crash that killed Faith’s mother was really necessary. Likewise, Levi’s past was so rich that I didn’t feel like I needed to know either about his ex-wife or about his dead-beat father. If Kristan had picked one of those storylines and focused on it instead of putting both of them in, I would have been fine.

That’s it, really. Awesome book! I want more! However, next on my list is a non-fiction book. In fact, I was actually reading this and the next book at the same time, which I don’t usually do. I’ll give you a hint though, book #30 is equally as awesome as this one!